So, if you’ve read my guide to couponing in a nutshell, you might be wondering just where to start with your couponing ventures. As I mentioned before, couponing isn’t extremely difficult, but it does take quite a bit of planning. It might take a few weeks to truly get the hang of it, but here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Start building and organizing your coupon collection!
When I actually started paying attention, I realized that coupons were everywhere – newspapers, magazines, in-store displays, supermarket booklets, and even online!
If you buy the paper on Sunday, you will sometimes get 2 sets of coupon inserts. Some neighborhoods also deliver a free set of coupons from the Sunday paper on the Thursday prior.
I recommend clipping and keeping ALL of the coupons you come across despite whether or not you are sure it is an item you need or whether the coupon value seems to be substantial. The reason for this is that even the most random item becomes essential when you can get it for free!
2. Become familiar with your store’s coupon policies.
Which ones accept competitor’s coupons? Which ones automatically double your coupons? Which ones publish their own store coupons? Learning how the store utilizes coupons can really make a difference in deciding whether or not you can maximize savings in that store.
For example, for the longest time, I was convinced that I would get the best deal on cleaning products and other household items from Walmart. In fact, I would never even look in that aisle at the supermarket! However, while Walmart’s retail price on those items is lower, I could find a product at another store with a better sale price. I’ve found that I can sometimes save much more from Publix because they’ll go on a BOGO sale and I’ll be able to use my manufacturer’s coupons that automatically double in addition to a competitor’s coupon. I end up getting those products for less than a dollar and sometimes absolutely FREE.
3. Begin to pre-plan all of your shopping trips.
Gone are days where you show up at the grocery store with a vague shopping list and start grabbing at any items that excite you. The first thing you’ll want to do each week before you go shopping is to view the sales circulars for each store you shop at. Compare the sales and see how what each store has to offer can complement your coupon savings.
Make a detailed shopping list of the items you need to purchase from each store and include the size of the item, i.e. 8 oz, 4-count, etc. This makes it easier to ensure that your coupons will be valid on the item you buy.
You will also need to organize your coupons for the shopping trip. The cashiers aren’t always pleased with couponers, so you should do your part to make sure you have all of your coupons lined up when you approach the register. And always remember to hand in the dollars off coupons (i.e. $5 off a purchase of $50) FIRST to be sure that coupon is applied to your purchase.
4. Be prepared to visit multiple stores at times for the best deal overall.
I hate supermarket hopping just as much as anyone else, but sometimes it can be necessary. For the record, I would never travel 30 miles just to save 20 cents, but I will sometimes travel to more than one supermarket to take advantage of their offers.